Friday, June 09, 2023 

How Marvel's movieverse supposedly devoured Hollywood

That's what a whole article at the New Yorker is telling, as they detail some history of how it was all built up, yet won't get into how, in the past few years, it's being built down:
Growing up in Missouri, Christopher Yost had boxes of Marvel comic books, which his mother bought at the grocery store. None of his friends read Marvel; it was his own private world, a “sprawling story where all these characters lived in this universe together,” he recalled. Wolverine could team up with Captain America; Doctor Doom could fight the Red Skull. Unlike the DC comics, whose heroes (Superman, Batman) towered like gods, Marvel’s were relatably human, especially Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man. “He’s got money problems and girl problems, and his aunt May is always sick,” Yost said. “Every time you think he’s going to live this big, glamorous superhero life, it’s not that way. He’s a grounded, down-to-earth dude. The Marvel characters always seem to have personal problems.”
Seriously, the descriptions they're giving of DC's heroes is ridiculous. They may not have focused on personal problems like Marvel's did, but to say they "tower like gods"? That makes it sound like they were literally immortal, which was not the case; they had weaknesses, screwed up at times while fighting the baddies, and not only was Superman vulnerable to Kryptonite radiation, he was also vulnerable to magical energies. Why, even the claim May Parker was "always sick" is also an exaggeration, and Mr. Yost might want to examine what a fiasco Spidey and other Marvel books became since the turn of the century, all because some PC advocates decided Peter shouldn't be married, or retain success in his plainclothes careers, but what's really telling is the contempt heaped upon Mary Jane Watson. And they're clearly oblivious to how recent Marvel is more like a whole Mary Sue, so what's that about personal problems? Today, it's only on the political level. The way they reduce this to a whole superficial perception is repulsive.
Twenty years ago, few people would have bet that a struggling comic-book company would turn a bunch of second-string superheroes into movie icons—much less swallow the film industry whole. Yet the Marvel phenomenon has yanked Hollywood into a franchise-drunk new era, in which intellectual property, more than star power or directorial vision, drives what gets made, with studios scrambling to cobble together their own fictional universes. The shift has come at a perilous time for moviegoing. Audiences, especially since the pandemic, are seeing fewer films in the theatre and streaming more from home, forcing studios to lean on I.P.-driven tentpoles like “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” Kevin Goetz, the founder of Screen Engine, which studies audience behavior, pointed to Marvel’s sense of “elevated fun” to explain why it gets people to the theatre: “They’re carnival rides, and they’re hefty carnival rides.”
And few would've thought the zygote would've been shoved into abuse and neglect even before they went Hollywood, with the Clone Saga spelling the deterioration of Spider-Man in 1995, the "teen Tony" in Iron Man leading to an awfully poor direction before the 1st volume was cancelled during the 1996 Onslaught crossover, and the Age of Apocalypse an example of decline for X-Men. Just what are they trying to get at, exactly? These very filmmakers hadn't a clue what would make the comics work well, didn't complain about the editorially mandated crossovers that injured much of the character focus they supposedly admired, and it's clear at this point they couldn't care less if the company had folded back in the day, even if it would've been for the best artistically. Also note how they bring up the way these popcorn blockbusters led to a situation where star power is suddenly not a selling point, let alone acting talent, further mentioned below:
Marvel’s success, he added, has “sucked the air out of” more human-scaled entertainments. Whole species of movies—adult dramas, rom-coms—have become endangered, since audiences are happy to wait and stream “Tár” or “Book Club: The Next Chapter,” or to get their grownup kicks from such series as “Succession” or “The White Lotus.” Yet even prestige television has become overrun with Marvel, “Star Wars,” and “The Lord of the Rings” series, which use the small screen to map out new corners of their trademarked galaxies. Hollywood writers, who are currently striking over the constricted economics of streaming, also complain of the constricted imaginations of TV executives: instead of searching for the next “Mad Men,” they’re hunting for Batman spinoffs.

Marvel’s fanciful house style has rubbed off even on Oscar winners. This year’s Best Picture, “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” had a Marvel-ish meld of walloping action, goofy humor, and multiverse mythology; it could have easily functioned as the origin story for a new Avenger. Marvel, meanwhile, has colonized nearly every other genre. “WandaVision” was a pastiche of classic sitcoms; “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” was a feminist legal comedy. Detractors see the brand’s something-for-everyone approach as nefarious. An executive at a rival studio, who called the M.C.U. “the Death of All Cinema,” told me that the dominance of Marvel movies “has served to accelerate the squeezing out of the mid-range movie.” His studio’s comedies had been struggling at the box office, and he groused, “If people want a comedy, they’re going to go see ‘Thor’ or ‘Ant-Man’ as their comedy now.”
And PC's sucked the oxygen out of the Marvel movies themselves, as Thor 4 made clear, in example, so the studio executive's argument is not very accurate, and besides, this misses a much bigger, sadder picture: PC's been destroying the comedy genre, and if it's hurt both movie and TV comedies, chances are the Marvel movies have been affected as well. What's to laugh at then? Not a trip to the bank, that's for sure.
The result is a lot of hand-wringing over “the death of the movie star.” In an I.P.-driven ecosystem, individual stars no longer attract audiences to theatres the way they used to, with a handful of exceptions (Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts). You go to a Marvel movie to see Captain America, not Chris Evans. “It’s actually surprising to me how almost none of them have careers outside of the Marvel universe,” another agent said. “The movies don’t work. Look at all the ones Robert Downey, Jr., has tried to do. Look at Tom Holland. It’s been bomb after bomb after bomb.”

Marvel has similarly gobbled up screenwriters, special-effects artists, and workers from nearly every other profession in Hollywood—including directors, who are often snatched from other genres. Taika Waititi made the vampire mockumentary “What We Do in the Shadows” before getting placed in charge of Thor. Chloé Zhao went from moody, micro-budget Westerns to Marvel’s moody, macro-budget “Eternals.” Career paths that once led to Oscars now lead inexorably to the some-assembly-required world-building of the M.C.U. An agent who works with screenwriters complained, “I worry for the film industry, because, if you’re Chloé Zhao and you want to tell a story on a big canvas, mostly you’re limited to trying to tell it on a canvas of a big superhero.” He added, “It’s a pair of golden handcuffs.”

Dissenters have been loud. In 2019, Martin Scorsese pronounced Marvel movies “not cinema,” earning the undying enmity of comics fans. Last year, Quentin Tarantino lamented Marvel’s “choke hold” on Hollywood and said, “You have to be a hired hand to do those things.” When I mentioned this comment to Joe and Anthony Russo, brothers who directed four Marvel movies, including the highest grossing, “Avengers: Endgame,” Anthony said, “I don’t know if Quentin feels like he was born to make a Marvel movie, which is maybe why he would feel like a hired hand doing it. It depends on your relationship to the source material.” Joe added, “What fulfills us the most is building a sense of community around our work.” People involved in Marvel projects often talk about “playing in the sandbox,” which is another way of saying that the brand takes precedence over any individual voice—except that of Feige, the affable face of the franchise.

Industry people like to speculate about “Marvel fatigue,” which is mostly wishful thinking—though a recent series of creative missteps and corporate machinations have rivals salivating. As much as competitors gripe about Marvel, though, they’ve spent the past decade trying to emulate it. Marvel’s nemesis, DC Studios, which is owned by Warner Bros., has a hit-or-miss record, with often gritty, self-serious movies that lack Marvel’s zip and quality control. Last year, Warner Bros. brought in James Gunn (who directed Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy) and Peter Safran to reboot DC’s film universe, presumably in the image of the M.C.U. Sony, which shares the Spider-Man franchise with Marvel, is building out its Spider-verse with characters like Venom. In 2017, Universal announced its own Dark Universe, based on its classic monsters, such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Russell Crowe) and the Invisible Man (Johnny Depp). After the first installment—“The Mummy,” starring Tom Cruise—disappointed, the plan was scrapped.
Sounds like apologia for the social justice direction they've recently taken, since they don't see fit to mention any of it. All they do is cite Eternals without acknowledging the movie was one of the first real failures in the film franchise, that does a terrible injustice to Jack Kirby's creations. Though it's certainly funny how they admit one of the biggest mistakes DC's movies made was forcing the same darkness they foisted upon their comics post-2000 onto the movies as well, some of which have their own share of PC ingredients, and that's not brought up by contrast.
Thirty-odd films later, Marvel’s critics (and even some fans) groan at the formula. There’s the climactic C.G.I. slugfest, often pitting a good iron man against a bad iron man, or a good dragon against a bad dragon, or a good witch against a bad witch. There’s the self-referential shtick, the interchangeable villains. There are presumed-dead characters who reappear, as on a soap opera. Most plots boil down to “Keep glowy thing away from bad guy,” and the stakes are nothing less than the fate of the world, which come to feel like no stakes at all.
Well they're definitely no longer entertaining, that's for sure. But if they believe villains should be at the forefront of a focus next, I will absolutely not support that, because villain worship's been going too far over past years as it is.
Origin Story No. 3: another resurrection. In 1989, the billionaire Ron Perelman, notorious for his hostile takeover of Revlon, scooped up Marvel for $82.5 million, calling it a “mini-Disney in terms of intellectual property.” But he considered movies too risky. Instead, he padded out the entity, renamed Marvel Entertainment Group, with trading-card and sticker acquisitions. By the mid-nineties, Marvel’s famed “bullpen” of comic-book writers and artists had lost many of its star talents, and the bulk of the staff was laid off. Incensed by the declining quality, fans boycotted. Compounding Marvel’s financial woes, a Major League Baseball strike tanked the trading-card business. By the fourth quarter of 1996, Marvel was posting losses of four hundred million dollars. The stock price plummeted. Perelman filed for Chapter 11. [...]
This glosses over - and certainly fails to clearly mention - that declining story quality and art continued even after they'd gone into bankruptcy, and certainly when they were later bought out by Disney. Though as many would probably agree, it would've been better if Marvel had closed down as a comics publisher if that's what it took to avoid the far-left fiasco they've become ever since. Or, they could've abandoned the monthly pamphlet format, switched to trade-only, and that would've been a start for a better business model. Alas, it's all meaningless to these press sources.
In early 2009, Maisel met with his former colleague Bob Iger, who had become the C.E.O. of Disney. Without consulting Perlmutter, Maisel suggested that Disney buy the newly ascendant Marvel. Perlmutter was assured that Disney would preserve Marvel’s corporate culture, as it had with Pixar, and that he would remain its chief executive. The acquisition was finalized on the last day of the year. Maisel resigned, fifty million dollars richer. “I wanted to leave and live a life—find a wife, which I still haven’t done,” he told me. He’d installed Feige as the studio’s president and figured that the franchise was in good hands, though he seems bewildered by how Feige’s contributions have eclipsed his own. “Kevin was a kid who I promoted, and I was his biggest fan,” Maisel said. “But Kevin wasn’t even in the room where it happened.” He’s currently planning a new universe of animated musicals based on Greek and Roman myths, starting with Justin Bieber as Cupid.
"Corporate"? Well that's certainly telling too, seeing where they've been going ever since. What they didn't preserve was meritocracy. That's been thrown away for the sake of social justice propaganda too. And how did Feige's "contributions" eclipse Meisel's? I think it was already mentioned.

There's really nothing in this puff piece that we haven't been lectured about before, and it makes no attempt to explore why the Marvel movie franchise is now on its way down, as are the comics too, and have been for a long time, no thanks to their SJW pandering. This article merely represents a pro-establishment viewpoint minus any respect for fandom, let alone the original comics.

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Thursday, June 08, 2023 

One of the Big Two's modern PC writers admits sales are floundering

Warner Todd Huston at Breitbart points to comments made by Steve Orlando, a modern writer who's had his own share of PC storytelling, and who's admitted sales are tanking like never before:
A top Marvel Comics writer recently admitted that the ultra-woke U.S. comics industry is “struggling” even as sales of Japanese and South Korean comics are soaring in the U.S.

Marvel writer Steve Orlando, who currently pens Scarlet Witch, recently tweeted — then deleted — the admission that sales of U.S.-made comic books are falling and he is expecting his own series to be canceled after only ten issues.

“Sales are struggling, alongside the whole industry. Right now, we’ll hopefully get to ten,” Orlando said last week, according to Bounding Into Comics.

In a reply to another Twitter user, Orlando also said that the cover price of U.S. comics are also hurting sales.

The commenter wrote, “Comics are crazy expensive now. I’m all in on manga, which is much more affordable.” To which Orlando replied, “I’m with you! Not that prices are up to – we’re in a weird spot where folks in general keep wanting a higher and higher production value and paper quality. Which is part, but all of it, of course.”

[...] Orlando didn’t say it but another reason U.S. comics are fading fast is because nearly every series, every title, and every character across every U.S. comic company is heavily pushing left-wing propaganda. U.S. comics are pushing anti-gun, pro-gay, transgender, climate change and nearly every other far left-wing agenda on readers. And the more they do so, the lower their sales go.
Yes, and Orlando's a LGBT leftist himself, as I seem to recall, so no wonder he wouldn't admit it; that's not something SJWs like him are known to do. Something tells me if a known right-winger tried to ask him if could come clean about how far-left agendas have effectively destroyed the mainstream, he'd vehemently refuse to acknowledge the vicious politics people like him stuff into the comics is having a severely negative impact.

It wouldn't be shocking if the Scarlet Witch comic Orlando's penning will turn out to be pretty bad in its own way too, and another demonstration of how, for Wanda Maximoff, the time to get her own monthly solo came far too late.

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SJWs hijack Spider-Verse sequel to desecrate Gwen Stacy

I'd already thought the whole concept of Into the Spider-Verse relied far too much on PC elements first conceived in the past decade or so, mostly begun by the awful Brian Bendis. Now, as the Daily Wire reports, Gwen Stacy's Spider-Gwen (or Spider-Woman) counterpart has been hijacked for pushing LGBT propaganda, and worse, what if the movie counterpart was turned into a transsexual, as some Twitter creeps are claiming? For now, here's what's told:
Some fans of the new animated Sony film “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” are convinced that the fictional character Gwen Stacy is transgender.

In the sequel to Sony’s highly successful “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (2018), viewers observed that the color palette used in several of Stacy’s scenes “appear imbued with the pastel blue, pink and white” colors of the transgender Pride flag, The Pink News reported. There is also a “Protect Trans Kids” sign on the wall of Stacy’s bedroom.

A third example comes from a scene where Stacy reveals her secret identity as Spider-Woman to her father, who is a police officer reportedly wearing a “trans Pride flag badge” pinned to his uniform. The Pink News reported that many viewers interpreted the scene as a metaphor for coming out. The colors of the transgender Pride flag are also incorporated into the animation.
I think it's possible to say these aren't really "fans", so much as they are cultural hijackers who wish to tarnish the item more than it already is. No matter what they say, the chances they've seriously read the Spider-Man material prior to the turn of the century is minimal, and they certainly don't respect it any more than Gwen's original creator, Stan Lee (and artists Steve Ditko and John Romita Sr).

Spider-Gwen may not have been changed wholesale into a transsexual in this cartoon, but if they did, that'd be a multiple humiliation of the original character who'd already suffered enough from being murdered by the Green Goblin in 1973. Mainly because Norman Osborn was later revived, yet Gwen remained firmly in the grave (in contrast to the aforementioned Punisher's wife, who was resurrected just so Frank Castle could be humiliated as a creation). It goes without saying that that kind of MO is hugely insulting to the very concept of science fiction, making it look as though a civilian, selectively or otherwise, is denied the right to revival, in contrast to a villain. Let's also recall Harry Osborn was resurrected in a contrived tale post-One More Day in the past decade or so, in another form of insult to the audience's intellects. Because that too has the effect of making it look like a lady's not worth revival as compared to a man.

I'll be avoiding the Spider-Verse sequel no matter the tone or content, because even stealthed propaganda can be very noxious. And while fictional characters aren't at fault for anything, one could argue there's too many Spider-combatants in costumes injected into the MCU at this point anyway. All that's done is dilute Spidey's uniqueness as a creation.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2023 

Documentary about Stan Lee at Tribeca film festival features unsuitable interviewee

One of the New York Times' most pretentious writers covering comics brought up a new documentary about Marvel's late guru
The documentary “Stan Lee” by the director David Gelb that debuts on June 10 at the Tribeca Festival in New York City seeks to change that. The film uses previously unreleased audio recordings and film footage and new and archival interviews to tell Mr. Lee’s story. The film, which will be available on Disney+ June 16, is a new way of seeing Mr. Lee, who was a constant presence in the lives of fans thanks to his writing, his voice work, his television appearances and his Marvel movie cameos. Here are some notable ones.
However, the writer had the gall to cite the writings of a certain novelist who didn't bring anything positive to comicdom:
Mr. Lee wrote a multitude of stories, but readers heard from him directly in the form of editorials on the back pages of many Marvel Comics. “Stan’s Soapbox” columns, written between 1967 and 1980, allowed him to ruminate on everything from the creative process to social issues. The author Brad Meltzer wrote in Mr. Lee’s obituary for Entertainment Weekly, “He gave an entire generation creeds to live by. Principles to emulate.” One of Mr. Lee’s editorials, from 1968, started with this: “Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today.” A collection of his editorials is available from the Hero Initiative, a charity which helps comic book creators in need.
Look who's quoting - and has the cheap nerve - to discuss such issues, after he penned an anti-female screed in Identity Crisis, and minimized the seriousness of sexual assault in the process. What's really disturbing, however, is that the documentarians would have the gall to interview Meltzer after what he did back in 2004. What is so special about somebody like Meltzer that calls for giving him a spotlight in documentaries and other items about famous figures? How doesn't that risk undermining the subject in focus?

As a result, this looks like it'll be yet another item I'm discouraged from watching, no matter how much I'd like to see some documentaries focused on famous figures like Lee. The sad thing about these would-be historians is that they won't consider whether the resume of specific writers makes them poor choices for interviewing to make a documentary. No doubt, there's more cases like these, and it doesn't help those other documentaries either. That's going to be broadcast on Disney Plus, at a time when the company's gone woke, also doesn't help matters.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2023 

Jason Aaron continues the modern PC defamation of the Punisher

Marvel continues to emphasize the modern far-left narrative that Frank Castle is nothing more than a "murderer", not pausing for even a second to consider how past writers portrayed him, or how he was first introduced as an anti-crime vigilante who went after mainly lethal mobsters and such, after a syndicate murdered his own family in NYC's Central Park during a picnic outing. Now, the far-left Polygon is paying lip service to current SJW writer Jason Aaron's newest take on the Punisher, which sees his late wife resurrected only as an excuse for rejecting Frank, after all he did to avenge innocent lives like hers and their children, and prevent more innocents from being murdered by violent criminals again:
Punisher, from writer Jason Aaron and artists Jesús Saiz and Paul Azaceta, is not explicitly a book that tries to redeem a character co-opted by hate, but it’s not a book that’s unaware of the context in which it exists.

And that’s never felt more sneakily true than in its conclusion, in which — after becoming an unstoppable god of murder and war — Frank Castle’s resurrected wife undoes his godlike powers, divorces him, and takes all of his money. [...]

The log line on Punisher was that Frank Castle was the destined avatar of the Beast, the god of murder worshiped by the Hand ninjas from Daredevil comics. And it largely stuck to that gonzo mandate, with Saiz delivering the epic visuals to match. Frank developed a whole suite of superpowers and used them to strike down armies and murder Ares himself — the book was anything but about taking out low-level criminals and earthly mobsters.

Azaceta, on the other hand, delivered the flashbacks to the story, redefining Frank’s childhood in the key of “evil-god-destined serial killer” and telling the story of Frank’s wife, Maria Castle, in such a way as to make it clear that if there was ever anything good in Frank it was from his family — who grew to hate and fear him for loving war more than them.

Is this Punisher series gonna stop people from worshiping the character’s murders as righteous behavior? No. There ain’t no book anybody can write or draw that’s gonna do that. Was it a fascinating read with a conclusion that quietly emasculates Frank in all the ways that those same people consider most important? Yes.
Here, the writer is justifying the notion of turning Frank into a "beta male", who can't possibly be heroic in any way, shape or form, and completely ignores the violent crimes committed by many of the villains he faced off with in the past. This is one of the most truly insulting tales I've ever heard of, with the worst part being that Punisher co-creator Gerry Conway's throughly unlikely, in all his modern wokeness, to lament the destruction of a character he and Ross Andru worked to create in the mid-70s.

I think the worst part is that Bill Mantlo may have sowed the seeds exploited by today's PC advocates around 1983, since he may have told at the time he disliked the Punisher, and wrote a story in Spectacular Spider-Man where Frank gunned down the wrong kind of people. Well gee, what makes Mantlo think that's going to improve anything by shoehorning Frank into scripts where he'd be made to look bad? Mantlo's writing, based on that, was very hit-or-miss, and it's a shame he had to let his personal disagreements get the better of him at the time. If the early 80s story were de-canonized, it'd be for the best. There's no need to allow a bad storyline to remain nailed in continuity till the end of time.

Here's a bit more about the premise of this 12-part story from Bam Smack Pow, who're just as embarrassingly bad in their take on the Aaron tale:
During this 12-issue run, Frank Castle joined The Hand, gained supernatural powers, and his wife Maria was resurrected. All of this concluded after Maria attempted to kill him. She hated how he used their family’s death to fuel his war. Frank didn’t understand until she took half of his worth and started a charity in their children’s names. She told him that’s the right way to honor their son and daughter. After that, Frank used the last of his powers to disappear. He’s later seen in Weirdworld keeping kids safe.

12 issues and Jason Aaron created something different. He created a series about a nearly fifty year-old man and changed him from top to bottom. This is something that should be praised.
So they're also, in pure knee-jerk fashion, justifying the abuse of a character whose stories should've been retired long ago, and as some may realize, it's unlikely the abuse will stop with this disgust, even if Frank's in the afterlife now. The article gets worse:
There have been mixed reviews on this Punisher run. Some people are saying it took away what made The Punisher special, but however you feel about that, characters are going to change. It’s been evident over the last five years. Classic romances no longer exist, teams are disbanding, and heroes are becoming villains and vice-versa. That’s not a bad thing. Keeping things the same is how people get bored. This is why Jason Aaron’s bold move with The Punisher will help revitalize the character.

It started with Punisher’s skull logo being changed. There was speculation as to why this was happening. A lot of it was down to the logo becoming synonymous with violence. Then there’s giving him powers. People always wanted to know what it would look like if Frank Castle didn’t need guns. Now we know. He could kill a god and take on the Avengers. Finally, if Frank Castle has given up being a killer, this writer applauds that decision.

Frank Castle’s greatest attribute isn’t killing and he isn’t defined by his guns. If he’s no longer fueled by war and killing, this gives him a new outlook on life and how he decides to truly honor his family. That means new stories, friends, and opportunities.
In that case, is Wolverine defined by his blades? As I may have noted at least a few other times, notice how nobody seems to have anything negative to say about an X-Men mainstay who occasionally killed criminals as well, whether rightly or wrongly, and in sharp contrast to Punisher, nobody gives a damn about Wolverine or what's defined him as a character. Classic hypocrisy right there.

And while the writer who penned this puff piece may not think it's a bad thing that classic romance is being canned, and heroes/villains switch places, it most certainly is troubling when it's all done for the desperate sake of PC wokeness. Something he clearly doesn't want to acknowledge is the problem. What's disturbing is that today's largely leftist writers not only don't want to create art that's inspiring, but these hack op-ed writers don't want to pen articles that do either. So they wind up justifying some of the worst possible directions taken with classic creations, and won't complain it's not improving a dismal situation, nor will they argue in favor of boycotting Marvel/DC for all the desecration they've heaped upon their stable of characters for the sake of woke pandering.

There's no telling if this is seemingly the last Punisher story that'll ever be published, but if it is, it's a terrible one indeed, yet the columnists refuse to admit it, in all their determination to be in lockstep with other PC advocates, emphasizing the notion the Punisher's very creation was wrong to begin with. Truly however, the only real ending stories for the Punisher were in the mid-90s, and indeed, it should've stopped there. All this makes clear one of the greatest weaknesses with serial fiction as practiced in the USA: they simply don't know when to quit, and it's led to only so much PC abuse of classic creations ever since. When Marvel/DC does finally fold, it'll be a blessing.

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Monday, June 05, 2023 

Image's union workers turn against them in labor court

Multiversity Comics tells that Image's allowing for a union with troubling beliefs to remain in their employ has now resulted in causing legal problems for them:
The Image Comics employees’ union Comic Book Workers United have filed charges against the publisher with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board, alleging three violations of the National Labor Relations Act. The press release describe the publisher’s lead staff as having grown increasingly hostile to their unionized workers. [...]

CBWU, which was the first comics publisher’s union in America, was founded in late 2021, although Image refused to recognize it until it was ratified (with the National Labor Relations Board’s help) in March of this year. The hostility was apparent early in 2022, when co-founder Jim Valentino’s imprint Shadowline removed the names of the ten CBWU members from the credits of its books. According to CBWU, they had previously filed a charge against Concerted Activities (Retaliation, Discharge, Discipline), and another over Changes in Terms and Conditions of Employment.
Sounds like a certain news site is taking the side of the union when they speak of hostility in the latter paragraph, who else? This union wants to impose censorship tactics, and they're surprised even Valentino could take offense? Most mysterious, however, is that these employees are still on the payroll. If I were in charge of a company and faced with such contemptible employees, I'd see to it they were booted as quickly as possible. If Image keeps them on at this point, they can't be surprised if it'll have a damaging effect on their sales, which are probably already mediocre enough, no thanks to their own turns to PC in the past decade.

If there's something to be learned in all this, it's that "unions" espousing in policing other people's creativity are bound to become trouble galore, and if Image sustains damage as a result, it'll be at least partly because they didn't distance themselves from the staffers who formed a union who were doing so for PC reasons, not because they wanted better wages for everybody.

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Sunday, June 04, 2023 

J. Michael Straczynski returns to Marvel to script Captain America, and Dan Slott returns to his inferior take on Dr. Octopus

Over 2 decades ago, JMS penned one of the most pretentious runs possible on Spider-Man, and subsequently, added Thor and Superman to the list of comics he had no business shoving his ultra-leftist viewpoint onto. Now, in this Gizmodo interview, we learn JMS is coming back to the company he assisted in dumbing down, and the main project he'll be taking this time is Captain America, which already suffered more than enough under writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates:
16 years ago, J. Michael Straczynski inadvertantly gave the Marvel Comics world one of the all time great Captain America moments in the pages of his Civil War-era run on Amazing Spider-Man. Now, it’s time for him to move: in a major return to the publisher, to put the spotlight on Steve Rogers for real in a brand new run of Captain America.

io9 can exclusively reveal that Straczynski—the renowned comics and TV writer already in the midst of returning to one of his other iconic works, the sci-fi series Babylon 5—will team up with Jesús Saiz for the relaunch of Captain America later this year. The series will see Steve thrust into a shadowy plot to prevent Captain America from changing the world of superheroes forever as he did bursting onto the scene in the age of heroes... and a sinister foe that wants to plunge the world into darkness, no matter the cost.
Based on his past political allegories and metaphors from a liberal perspective, one can only wonder if the foe who wants to cast darkness upon the globe is a right-winger. After all, Straczynski's shown no signs of changing his leftist politics, and there's every chance he'll practically be allowed by the editors now to write in more terrible liberal-influenced moments, if they've decided to lift any previous opposition to doing so. After all, if Coates was allowed, then let's not think things will improve with JMS at the helm.
James Whitbrook, io9: Why was now the time for you to return to Marvel in an ongoing capacity, and why was Captain America the character that drew you back?

J. Michael Straczynski: Like most things, the process was incremental. It started when Wil Moss asked me to do a short piece for the big Thor anniversary issue, which ended up getting a fair bit of attention. Then he asked me to do a Thanos story for that big issue, which also drew a lot of eyeballs, which led to me writing yet another piece for Marvel Age 1000 coming out soon. During all this, Wil Moss asked if I’d write a six-issue mini-series that would be a bit of an Event. [Editors note: more on that coming soon!] I did so, it was a ton of fun for everyone involved, and Wil gave Alanna [Smith, Marvel comics editor] one of my scripts that involved Captain America.

Alanna liked how I handled the character, and sends an email asking if I’d like to take over the monthly Captain America book
…and that was pretty much the best thing ever, because I’ve always had a strong affinity for Cap, which is why I would sneak him into just about everything I wrote for Spider-Man and Thor.
From what I recall about Smith, she's a bad leftist lot too, so we can only expect the worst from her as an editor by extension. If they're boomeranging back to divisive politics in any way, that won't be shocking at this point. And for somebody claiming to have big affinity for Cap, he sure didn't seem to have any for Mary Jane Watson, nor Gwen Stacy, back in the mid-2000s.
io9: Tell us a little bit about what you have in store for Steve in this new run. What do you want to say about Captain America?

Straczynski: Here’s the thing: I come from television, where the #1 rule is that you must service the main character above all else. When I took on The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter had been all but lost in a crowd of supporting characters, so I set them aside to delve deep into him, his relationships, his fears and his dreams, along the way setting the stage for the Spider-Verse. I did much the same when I came aboard Thor, and began asking what it actually means to be a god, and putting Asgard in Oklahoma to see how he and the others relate to the mortal world, making them both more god-like but also more personal. Ditto for Supreme Power and Mark Milton. Again, it’s all about servicing the main character first and foremost.
On this, sounds like he's making cheap excuses for kicking much of the supporting cast to the curb, since the whole notion they make it impossible to focus foremost on the star of the show is laughable. So if he's going to sideline Sharon Carter, in example, like he did with Sif in his Thor run, not only will that not be surprising, it'll be a telling sign Straczynski's clueless where to go with his new Cap run either.
I’ve often heard writers say how hard it is to write for Captain America because in recent years he’s become a symbol more than a person, and because they see him as “a man out of time,” which is true but that needn’t define him. In a sense, we’re all people out of time because the world we live in at age 30 isn’t the same it was when we were six. It doesn’t change the fundamental question: who is this character at their absolute core? Push them to their limits, put them up against a wall, make them stand when standing is the hardest thing in the world…and what do you see? Who do you see?

One thing about Steve Rogers that’s never really been addressed is the period between when his parents died, and when he became Captain America. We’re talking about a sickly, skinny 17 year old kid, trying to survive on his own for because he’s stubborn and independent, on the street for several years, hustling for any gig he can get, even if it’s bigger than he is, trying to afford food and a place to stay. So we will counterpoint a present-tense story in which Captain America faces off against a new villain of supernatural origin, with a story about his younger self, with both stories tightly interwoven.

Because there’s one other, key aspect to that period that we will be addressing. The years young Steve was on his own were the same years during which the American Bund – for all intents and purposes the Nazi Party in America – was growing very powerful in real world New York, blocks from where he lived. They held public marches and rallies, harassed people, and spread hate, all part of an effort to get America on the side of the Nazis, a campaign that came to a head with the biggest Nazi rally on American soil in history, as tens of thousands of people, Nazis and Nazi sympathizers, crammed into Madison Square Garden to celebrate their dream of a thousand-year Reich.

We are going to put young Steve right into the middle of that real-life vortex, where despite terrible odds he will make a crucial difference at an even more crucial moment. For a young Peter Parker, the murder of his uncle Ben was a transformational event putting him on the path to becoming Spider-Man. This story will be equally transformational, putting a young Steve Rogers on the path to being the hero he eventually becomes.

To balance all that, the contemporary story has a lot of fun and action, and in both storylines we get to see more flashes of humor from Steve, because I think that range is essential to good storytelling. We will loosen him up, and make him even more of a compelling character on his own terms.
Seeing how he failed to do that with Spidey, I can't see why we should expect any improvement here. Nor should we be shocked if comparisons are drawn between modern right-wingers and National Socialists of the past, mainly because it's been done countless times before in the past decade or so, and no chance they'll cease now. The part about Cap being a "man out of time" continues to be quite insulting to the intellect, because it sounds more like a subtle attack on the values Steve Rogers was built upon, and sadly, that's practically what's happened for 2 decades already.
io9: Steve’s relationship to the iconography of America as a political entity is something he’s always grappled with throughout his career as a hero. How do you approach writing Steve and his relationship with America in this new book?

Straczynski: As you note, this has been dealt with a lot in the title, so rather than go up against all that to redefine it one more time, I’d rather go in a different direction at the start. Not to ignore it, because that bill always comes due sooner or later, but just to give it a bit of a rest while we focus on Steve as a character, as a person, rather than one symbol trying to figure out how he relates to another symbol.
Alas, whichever direction he goes in, it's not bound to be a good one, and if JMS could screw up Spidey's continuity and history as badly as he did, we can expect no less this time with Steve Rogers.
io9: You’re working with Jesús Saiz on the new Cap series - after you previously crossed paths over at DC for Team-ups of the Brave and the Bold. What’s it been like working with Jesús again, and what has he brought to the new series?

Straczynski: We’ve seen the first issue’s worth of art from Jesús, and it’s just beautiful. He was on my short list from day one, because so much of my work lives or dies by whether or not you can read emotion in the faces of the characters, and Jesús excels at that. He gets to explore the contemporary story with a lot of action, much of it of a supernatural origin, then go into a period look for the book as we follow Steve in New York in the late 1930s, so he gets to play with all the fun toys and show what he can do. So yeah…it’s a really great looking book.

So overall, the goal is to do some really challenging stories, some really fun stories, and get inside Steve’s head to see who he really is in ways that may not have been fully explored before. If folks like what I did with Peter in ASM, and Thor in, well, Thor, then they should really give this a shot, because I’m really swinging for the bleachers in this one.
Hmm, now that sounds familiar. "Getting inside heads" is just what JMS supposedly set out to do with Spidey, and all that came of it was distorted continuity, just a taste of what was to come, and lest we forget the atrocity that was Sins Past, with Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson becoming 2 birds killed with one stone in a tale that made them both out to look sleazy and stupid, with the former's forced and contrived depiction having sex with Norman Osborn and bearing his children an utter embarrassment. Also note JMS didn't say if he'd be willing to write stories where Cap battles Islamic terrorism in ways that improve upon the atrocity that was the Marvel Knights run, and if he won't spotlight serious issues like those, we can't expect anything intelligible now either. It's not hard to guess he hasn't changed, and has no regrets over what an awful story Sins Past was, in example. And that's why this new Cap tale should be avoided.

JMS isn't the only terrible scribe who's making a "comeback" on something previously worked upon. Even Dan Slott's returning to writing a new volume of Superior Spider-Man, according to ComicBook:
[...] In a quick tweet on Saturday the publisher confirmed that the fan-favorite Superior Spider-Man would be returning. Marking the third volume to star the character, Marvel also confirmed that Eisner Award-winner Dan Slott will return to write the new series which arrives this Fall. Though they added "More info swinging in soon," it seems likely we may not know more about the new Superior Spider-Man series until San Diego Comic-Con.
In that case, one more reason to stay away from the SDCC altogether. Slott was doing nothing more than troll the audience, not to mention inject a bunch of "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter" propaganda, and the way he treated Mary Jane in the tale was inexcusable too. And look how they perpetuate the propaganda about the series being a "fan-favorite". That's also insulting.

So, there's 2 overrated writers who've sadly been given another chance at some series they never had genuine respect for in the first place. This sure is a most sad occasion indeed.

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Elon Musk's comparison of George Soros to Magneto is far from a problem, though how Marvel's portrayed him is

A month or so ago, leftists were exploiting statements made by Tesla/Twitter owner Elon Musk, where compared the reprehensible left-wing millionaire George Soros to one of Marvel's most notable supervillains, Magneto, who'd been established as a Holocaust survivor himself in the early 1980s by Chris Claremont. Columnist Caroline Glick commented on this, and why comparing somebody like Soros to a supercrook isn't such a bad thing in itself:
In a series of posts on Twitter, the social media platform Musk purchased last year to promote his freedom of speech agenda, Musk harshly criticized Soros. He wrote, “Soros reminds me of Magneto.” Magneto is a Marvel Comics villain.

Progressive Jewish writer Brian Krassenstein responded, “Magneto’s experiences during the Holocaust as a survivor shaped his perspective as well as his depth and empathy. Soros, also a Holocaust survivor, gets attacked nonstop for his good intentions which some Americans think are bad merely because they disagree with this political affiliations [sic].”

Musk refused to budge. Responding to Krassenstein, Musk wrote, “You assume they are good intentions. They are not. He wants to erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity.”
Something to consider that Musk's critics aren't: if we take specific stories as examples, Magneto was depicted killing people, or just plain brutalizing everybody through a myopic viewpoint. And while the Holocaust was tragic, does that give free license to do evil and offensive things, like Roman Polanski, to name one example of a Holocaust survivor, who sadly did? See, this is something these progressives don't seem to consider. Or, how come they don't seem to complain about any story since, say, the 1990s, when Magneto was reverted back to a villain, after having joined the good side in New Mutants for a time? Or worse, how he was depicted associating with Hydra, which conflicts with his prior origins? Or how he's ever been depicted killing since that time, until a more recent storyline I think I'd highlighted mention of earlier, where Erik finally passes away, and from what was told, hopefully heroically.

But what a shame that, past or present, the "progressives" attacking Musk have never really given a damn how Magneto was portrayed, not even how Scott Lobdell made Magneto out to look really bad in his last X-Men story, Eve of Destruction from 2001. It reminds me that, a few years earlier, there'd been a story retconning Magneto more to Roma descent, but this was clearly ignored since. Either way, what matters is that, in the long run, Marvel did do justice for Magneto as a character.

As for Soros, it should be noted there's Jews opposed to him as well, based on his far-left ideological standings. So what's the point of the progressives when they clearly don't address what the right finds bad about him?

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Saturday, June 03, 2023 

Islamist in Europe creates transsexual Muslim superhero

In this interview on Yahoo UK, originally from a European LGBT news source, a writer who may be a Muslim came up with something that's unlikely to please all followers of the Religion of Peace, even if it's meant to serve as some kind of bizarre virtue-signaling propaganda for whitewashing Islam:
David Ferguson chatted to Bijhan Agha, creator of the new science-fiction comic Time Wars: the Adventures of Kobra Olympus, which centres around a young gay, trans and Muslim character. He found out more about Agha’s influences, the comic’s story and the Kickstarter campaign to fund the project.

As this is a comic book project, what comics did you like growing up?

You know, I didn’t have a lot of money growing up, and by the ’90s, the cost of comics was quite high relative to the page count. So I didn’t get to read a lot of the comics which were being printed at the time.

But we had a local library, the White Center branch of the King County Library System, where they would have these thick comic book reprints using just the black line artwork on cheap yellow paper. These things had to have at least a hundred issues in each volume.

This is where I experienced the classics. Spider-Man from the 1960s. Justice League from the 1970s. Ninja Turtles and X-Men from the 1980s. But the one that influenced me the most, as a young queer person, was the Wonder Woman comic compendium from the 1940s.

What influenced you about these comics, in a good or possibly bad way?

In all comics, I loved the sense of wonder and imagination. There was no attempt to anchor the storytelling in our own world, allowing for a sophisticated and unpredictable mythology. Yet at the same time, the emotional reality of the characters was crystal clear, allowing you to perfectly understand what they were going through.

In Wonder Woman, in particular, I found a celebration of femininity and a clear thesis on what feminine leadership looks like compared to masculine leadership. This message was planted in me like a seed that wouldn’t sprout until I was much older.
One must wonder what could possibly have impressed upon this writer in WW, seeing how such a classic Golden Age creation didn't emphasize the kind of perversions we see today, where femininity is being villified in women, yet elevated in men. Not to mention that the Religion of Peace practically disrespects femininity when it demands women wear burkas/chadors/abayas at the expense of their health. And the writer of this comic adds insult to injury by emphasizing something WW didn't celebrate decades ago.
For the benefit of those unfamiliar with your comic Time Wars: the Adventures of Kobra Olympus, what would be your ‘elevator pitch’ to readers?

Time Wars is a universe in which time travellers from the 161st century are coming back in time to help us in the past wage a covert war against the Vampires who are manipulating history to create inequality and strife. Kobra Olympus is a young gay trans and Muslim woman who has been recruited by a time-travelling agent to use technology from the future to fight literal monsters who live in the shadows of society.
What if it turns out those "monsters" are metaphors for non-Muslims? Then this is a most hypocritical production, because it'd be elevating Islam and transsexuality for sainthood, while making "infidels" out to be the baddies. This reminds me of a report on a Muslim "scholar" who accused Jews of what the comic tells about. In that case, what if it turns out these vampires are metaphors for Jews? Shudder.
I adore cinema and television, and I would love to write for them in the future. But my experience with comic book adaptations and the “cinemafication” of comics leads me to believe that the story being told must fit the medium.

The medium, as they say, often is the message. For that reason, I tried to abstain from channelling the language of cinema into the comic, and focused on literary and comic inspiration.
This sounds like more virtue-signaling from somebody who read Sean Howe's past commentaries on how too much cinematic approach has ruined modern comicdom, and wants to make it sound like a follower of the Religion of Peace actually respects arguments made by people with far better understandings of what went wrong with comicdom. In other words, we're literally supposed to embrace and adore this writer because he/she is an Islamist?
The personal part of Time Wars was really engaging – it felt genuinely character driven. Did you feel any pressure to represent your Muslim culture as well as the trans community?

I hope we someday reach a time when a trans and/or Muslim artist can create artwork which is sincere and true to themselves without feeling like they’re somehow representing others as well.

When a white American man makes an action movie, he doesn’t think about how it will reflect on white people, Americans, or men; he just makes what he likes. But that’s not an option for people who are marginalized by society
. When we make art, politics depersonalizes it and makes it either an achievement or a failure of the label we share with others.

When I wanted to make a comic, I decided to emulate the greats. I had two main inspirations for what I wanted to do. On the one hand, outright activism like Dr Marston and Wonder Woman. When he wrote that comic, he did so with the explicit goal of educating young boys on how to accept feminine leadership and treat women with respect.

Then, on the other hand, you have pure self-expression, like Stan Lee and Spider-Man. Peter Parker’s daily misadventures paralleled Stan Lee’s own troubles with women, cars, rent, and more.

Therefore I wanted to tell an exciting and relatable adventure as Stan Lee would, but with the explicit political goal of fostering goodwill for trans and Muslim people in the nerd community, like Dr Marston would. So, my intention was, first and foremost, to make something fun and entertaining but to inject it with my real lived experiences to show how easy it is for everyone to relate to us when given a chance.
Well this sure is classic hypocrisy indeed. All coming from somebody who refuses to acknowledge the verses in the Koran disrespecting women, how honor murders are legitimized under Islam, or how many women in Islamic regimes are forced to wear niqabs, much like the trans-star of the show in focus is, which sure doesn't provide the wearer with an identity. But, this does raise an important point to make: based on Islam's disapproval of homosexuality for starters, a woman pretending to be a man and/or got a sex change operation would not have her claims accepted in a stringent Muslim regime like Iran and Afghanistan, period, and would be forced to wear a niqab, or could be subject to even worse, like execution. Even a male transsexual could experience a horror story under the sword of the ummah.

So this comic project is little more than an insult to the intellect, topped off by how interviewer and interviewee deliberately make an Islamist look like the smart one to be listened to, all through the lensing of hypocritical double-standards. Or, in other words, taqqiya (deception). Yet based on Islam's ostensible abhorrence for homosexuality, that's why there's little chance the Muslim world in its majority would accept such a propaganda product, which may be marketed more for the non-Muslim world, to serve as deceptive propaganda whitewashing a religion that's very contemptible of femininity, and to make the star of the show a transsexual only heaps on the insults in any event.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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